Recently in Books Category

Books I want to read

Here's are some books I want to take a look at:

1. Historical thinking and other unnatural acts : charting the future of teaching the past / Samuel S Wineburg/ Philadelphia : Temple University Press, 2001

The History Department at Gustavus Adolphus College is using this text for their History Seminar (there's an article on this in the Gustavus Quarterly (not available online, unfortunately). Read more about the book at the publisher's site. I want to read this in connection with my work with History Day visits to Wilson Library. I'll let you know what I think after I get my hands on it!

2. Kitchen
by Banana Yoshimoto
Author Yoshimoto, Banana, 1964-
Title Kitchen / Banan Yoshimoto ; translated from the Japanese by Megan Backus.
Edition 1st English language ed.
Published New York : Grove Press, 1993.
Description 152 p. ; 19 cm.
Other Title Kitchin. English

This one looks like a great one to read over Christmas break, and it also looks like the kind of book I'd love to be able to write. How can I say that when I haven't read it? Well, I sneaked a peek at the first few pages using Amazon's fabulous "Search Inside This Book" feature.

What are YOU thinking about reading soon?

Book Club Picks Nov. 2004 to Spring 2005

Book Picks / Nov 04 - Spring 05
November 17 - At Donna's - Maus by Art Spiegelman (Anne's pick)
January 19 - At Sarah's - Brick Lane by Monica Ali
February 16- At Suzie's - Waiting for Snow in Havana by Carlos Eire
March 16 - At Rosemary's - Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
April 20 - At Roberta's - Neither Wolf Nor Dog by Kent Nerburn
May 18 - At Anne's - Getting Mother's Body by Suzan-Lori Parks
June - At Ruth's - Philip Roth's The Human Stain

Then Ruth and Donna can pick (if it works out)

Suggestions made that weren't chosen this time:

Biographically Speaking

Annie has always enjoyed reading biographies. It's a much more recent attraction for me. The media stir over Bill Clinton's My Life certainly has heightened awareness of the form.

Biography has its own section in Barnes & Noble.
Libraries, too, have a separate section by call number (Biography is an "auxiliary science of history") in both Dewey (920) and Library of Congress (CT). Which is smart because that's probably a lot easier than assigning call numbers that relate to the country and time period of the person. What if the person was born in England but grew up in the U.S.? Then you have to decide whether the call number reflects the country of origin, or citizenship, or where they established a claim to fame. How would you classify Cary Grant*? Much more complicated.

Anyway, I haven't read Hillary's biography yet. Who to read first? I might be even more inclined to take on a less strenuous subject. Richard Chamberlain, for example. Yes, I grew up swooning over the ever unavailable Dr. Kildare. Little did I dream how unavailable he was and is. He lived much of his life dreading that his secret life would be exposed and now he's telling his story in a biography. I want to read it. His father was an alcoholic and he grew up trying to cope with that. My own father was a recovering alcoholic, and in his recovery process he was a role model for me. So the priest of Thorn Birds holds much fascination for me.

Now, we'll see what I wind up reading. I am torn about buying what the library will eventually buy but will be in such demand that I will only catch up with the reading years later. It would be like just discovering Dharma and Greg in 2004.

* Cary Grant: what is it about the classic movie stars that so many male leads have that hard G & K in their first and last names? Clark Gable, Cary Grant, Kirk Douglas, Gary Cooper, Gregory Peck. If I poked around enough I guess I could find out which of these were stage names. Hard is the key word, here. Hard sounds sound masculine, right? Or at least, they did in the 50s. If these were their real names, well, what's in a name? Did their crunchy names predestine them to become idols of the silver screen?
Note from June 28: Cary Grant is indeed a stage name, for Archie Leach.

Why is Elizabeth Shelver a librarian?

Why is Peter Bell ringing in the clanging light rail system?

Why was the dentist I visited in the 60's Dr. Hirt?

17th century British cuisine

In keeping with the time and locale of An Instance of the Fingerpost, our June Book Club pick, note these great Web sites, including one with a timeline describing food and beverages over time:

The Food Timeline
"Ever wonder what the Vikings ate when they set off to explore the new world? How Thomas Jefferson made his ice cream? What the pioneers cooked along the Oregon Trail? Who invented the potato chip...and why? Food is the fun part of social studies! The tricky part is finding recipes you can make in a modern kitchen, with ingredients bought at your local supermarket and bring into school to share with your class. This page is for you! We are also stocking up on teacher and parent food resources. Looking for social customs, manners & menus? Try the Culinary History Timeline. Bon appetit. "

Coffee in Europe
Coffee was hardly known in Europe before the seventeenth century. European travellers, who visited Middle Eastern countries at this time, probably visited the coffee houses, where business would be transacted, or saw street coffee pedlars carrying coffee for sale in copper pots.

When these travellers returned, their reports about coffee aroused European interest in coffee. Perhaps these travellers brought back small samples of coffee beans, but the Venetians were the first people to bring larger quantities of coffee into Europe. In 1615, Venice received Europes' first shipment of green coffee beans and the first coffee house there, Caffè Florian, opened in 1683.

Coffee was known in the first half of the 17th Century in Venice and Marseille but there was no trade in beans there. Although famous for their tea drinking, the British were the first European nation to embrace the pleasures of coffee drinking on a commercial basis. The first coffeehouse was in Oxford in 1650 where it was opened by a Turkish Jew named Jacob. More opened soon after in London in 1652 where there were soon to be hundreds - each serving their own customers.
ENGLAND: Great Britain was the last of the three great sea-faring nations to break into the Chinese and East Indian trade routes. This was
due in part to the unsteady ascension to the throne of the Stuarts and the Cromwellian Civil War. The first samples of tea reached England between 1652 and 1654. Tea quickly proved popular enough to replace Ale as the national drink of England. As in Holland, it was the nobility that provided the necessary stamp of approval and so insured its acceptance. King Charles II had married, while in exile, the Portuguese Infanta Catherine de Braganza (1662). Charles himself had grown up in the Dutch capital. As a result, both he and his Portuguese bride were confirmed tea drinkers. When the monarchy was re-established, the two rulers brought this foreign tea tradition to England with them. As early as 1600, Elizabeth I had founded The John Company for the purpose of promoting Asian trade. When Catherine de Braganza married Charles, she brought as part of her dowry the territories of Tangier and Bombay. Suddenly, the John Company had a base of operations. The John Company was granted the unbelievably wide monopoly of all trade east of the Cape of Good Hope and west of Cape Horn...

Book Club

Annie started book club a few years ago. Five women of varying ages, but we all have a taste for international and cultural themes. The first year we met at Open Book on Washington Ave in Minneapolis. Lately we've been meeting at our homes. In June we're inviting two more friends to join us.

Some of my favorites include A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry, Bel Canto by Anne Patchett, and Virgin Blue by Tracy Chevalier. A Fine Balance was a bit dark but I loved it. On the lighter end is one for July: Children of God Go Bowling, by Shannon Olson.

Here are our Picks:

January - Anne - Nine parts of desire : the hidden world of Islamic women / Geraldine Brooks.
February - Sarah - Paradise by Toni Morrison
March - Donna - DaVinci Code by Dan Brown
April - Sarah - The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
May - An Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears at Anne's - this got pushed to June - 691 pages; suddenly everyone was "busy" in May
June - Fingerpost - at Suzie's
July - Children of God Go Bowling by Shannon Olson at Donna's?
August - Body and Soul by Frank Conroy at Annie's?


January - Donna - Life of Pi Yann Martel
February - Suzie - The Color of Water James McBride
May- Annie - Death Comes to the Archbishop
June: Sarah - Bondswoman's Narrative by Hannah Crafts, edited by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
[July ?]- Girl with a Pearl Earring - Tracy Chevalier
[August ?] My Forbidden Face - Latifa
September - Donna - Oryx and Crake
October - Roberta - The Spell of the Sensuous
November - Susan – Virgin Blue Tracy Chevalier

April Annie: Postville - Stephen Bloom
May Donna: A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
June Suzie: Bonesetter's Daughter - Amy Tan
July Roberta: The Heartsong of Charging Elk - James Welch
August Sarah: The Interpreter of Maladies - Jhumpa Lahiri
September Sarah - The Shipping News Annie Proulx
October Roberta - Two Old Women Velma Wallis
November Anne - Bel Canto Anne Patchett

More - no date listed:
Undaunted courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the opening of the American West / Stephen E. Ambrose.

Here's the list of "other" books - not chosen but probably good one and all:

The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell

Color: A Natural History of the Pallette by Victoria Finlay

Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons by Lorna Lanvik

158 Pound Marriage by John Irving

The Cape Ann by Faith Sullivan

The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse by Louise Erdrich

Tears of the Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith

A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Waiting for Snow in Havana by Carlos Eire

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie

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